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Yet the resurgent Halswell Hornets were again ruing one that got away after being unable to protect a lead against a title favourite during their club day last weekend.
The Hornets had to settle for a 16-all draw with the five-time defending champion Linwood Keas when they conceded a last-minute try in round six after leading 10-0 at half-time.
And a week later Halswell led Hornby 18-4 at the break before the Panthers staged a second half revival to salvage a 24-all draw on Saturday through braces to winger Davy Watts and prop Keletisua Tongotongo.
“We just didn’t manage to carry on, we lost a bit of composure but we’re a young side, we’re still learning,” said Halswell head coach Walter Wilson, who was proud of his side’s reaction leading into Saturday’s clash with Papanui.
“There were two huddles at the end of the game. One was very grateful they got a draw, we were filthy.”
Wilson was still rapt the side was in the top four at the midway point of the competition.
“We’d like the boys to be patted on the back for a win, instead of a draw but we’re starting to become more consistent,” he said.
Halswell vice president Jeff Whittaker was also impressed after witnessing several lean seasons recently where the team languished in or around the bottom half.
“To draw with (unbeaten) Hornby … Linwood have won the last five grand finals. It’ll come. We’ve had four or five 18 year-olds step up to premier grade already. They’re competing and doing a good job.”
The Eastern Eagles again distanced themselves from the bottom of the eight-team ladder with a 22-20 win over Riccarton Knights at Crosbie Park in the other tight tussle of the round.
Linwood bounced back from their stalemate with a nine-try 48-20 victory over a Celebration Lions team featuring four sets of brothers and the Northern Bulldogs thrashed the winless Papanui Tigers 56-8, with coach Frank Endacott’s grandson Josh notching a hat-trick.
Marist Albion’s ability to collect bonus points in a losing cause has again enabled last year’s beaten finalists in the Christchurch Metro Cup to retain top spot in spite of a 33-31 loss to Sydenham.
They now have nine bonus points, one shy of Shirley’s haul from seven rounds and just two wins.
Burnside improved to second through a 22-16 victory over High School Old Boys; Sumner burst Linwood’s bubble with a 40-27 win at Linfield Park.
Cashmere Technical and Coastal Spirit continued to dominate the Mainland Football premiership after nine rounds.
While the reigning champions coasted to a 5-0 win over cellar-dwelling Halswell United, Coastal Spirit beat fourth-placed Nelson Suburbs thanks to Tristan Nichol’s decisive strike.
A Jack Grove double put Cashmere Technical on course to protect their unbeaten record before Yuya Taguchi and Luke Tongue were on target after the break. Alex Ballard’s maiden premiership goal completed the rout.
Selwyn started a busy week by becoming the first semi-finalist in the English Cup by eliminating Halswell 2-1 thanks to an 86th-minute winner.
The next quarter-final pits Christchurch United against FC Twenty 11 on June 22.
Marist continued their unbeaten start to the Canterbury Hockey men’s premier competition with a 1-0 win over University; Carlton Redcliifs leads the women’s division on goal difference from Avon in spite of losing 4-2 to Harewood, their first loss of the campaign.
Lincoln University maintained their imposing defence of the Christchurch Netball Centre premier title with a routine 63-44 win over St Margaret’s on Tuesday night to be unbeaten after six rounds. Closest challenger Kereru A beat the club’s B side 63-35.